Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis, otherwise known as the Stomach flu, Gastro, Gastric flu or the Stomach virus.

Symptoms
~ Vomiting
~ Diarrhea
~ No appetite
~ Fever
~ Headaches
~ Weakness ( Perhaps fainting)
~ Heartburn
~ Cramps

Cause
There are many causes for Gastroenteritis. One of the most common of these is because of food not being handled or cooked properly. When food has been:
~ Left in a warm area when it should be refrigerated
~ Cooked, but not properly, so that it has just been warmed up
~ Allowed to touch somewhere a rodent or their fecal matter has been
~ Tainted ( This generally applies to fruits and vegetables)
It can develop any of the following three bacteria ( to name just a few)
~ Salmonella
~ E. Coli
~ Shigella
Gastroenteritis can also be diagnosed when a person has drunk contaminated or dirty and bacteria infested water. This often happens in third world countries, where people do not have acess to clean drinking water. Another cause of the disease is simply touching contaminated water. This often happens when people swim in muddy rivers or lakes. In rarer cases, Gastroenteritis can be caused by parasites, chemicals ( such as lead poisoning) and antibiotics.

Treatment
There are vaccines for some of the causes of the disease, eg. Salmonella typhi and Vibrio cholera. These vaccines can only prevent the disease from happening again, they cannot cure you of it.
The most important thing to remember is to drink a lot of water. This will help the bacteria to pass through your body quickly. Antibiotics can also be used, but obviously not in the rare case that drugs such as antibiotics are to blame for the disease. Parasite drugs may be in need if they are the cause of the disease. It is not recommended to take anti-diarrhea or anti-vomiting drugs, because they will not help the body to dispose of the bacteria causing the disease.
Prevention
The easiest way to prevent Gastroenteritis is by washing your hands. This is especially important when you have just handled pets, smoked, used a tissue or touched raw meats. Use disposable paper towels to dry your hands, as cloth towels may harbour germs fo ra long time.
Keep food at the right temperature, eg. cold things below 5 degrees celsius and hot things above 60 degrees celsius. Constant reheating and cooling down of food will encourage bacteria to grow.
Clean the bathroom regularly, and concentrate on high bacteria spots, eg.toilet seat, door handles and the taps
When travelling overseas to a country where sanitation is suspect it is best to:
- Brush your teeth with bottled water
- Avoid food buffets :(
- Avoid uncooked meats, eg. things like Capaccio, where the red meat isn't cooked
- Avoid already peeled fruits an vegetables
- Avoid drinks with ice in them ( Do you know where the ice-cube tray has been? This only doesn't apply where it is really hot where you are and you are staying in somewhere like the Ritz who you can sue for a lot of money if you get sick from one of their ice cubes)
- Have the vaccines that are appropriate to that country

Pictures
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Not extremely scientific, but cute.
The effects of gastrsoenteritis

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A vaccine to kill the Rotavirus bacteria ( Pictured below as A)
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Pictures of gastroentiritis viruses:
A- Rotavirus
B- Adenovirus
C- Norovirus
D- Astrovirus

Bibliography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastroenteritis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmonellosis

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Gastroenteritis_an_overview

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